Yair Netanyahu’s driver to pay out for taping him disparaging women

Yair Netanyahu’s driver to pay out for taping him disparaging women

Premier’s son to be paid NIS 30,000 by Roi Rozen, who recorded him and his friends on night out at strip clubs, then released the tapes to a news outlet

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at an election event in Tel Aviv, September 18, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at an election event in Tel Aviv, September 18, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday approved a settlement deal according to which Yair Netanyahu will be paid NIS 30,000 (approximately $8,500) by his former driver, who made recordings in which the prime minister’s son was heard making disparaging comments about women during a night of excess at a series of Tel Aviv strip clubs.

Under the deal, former driver Roi Rozen also issued an apology to Yair Netanyahu.

“As part of my job, I recorded an exchange that was said in the vehicle,” Rozen wrote. “I did not intentionally hurt Yair Netanyahu, who as a rule treated me with friendship and respect, and I regret the damage he suffered as a result of the publicity and the sense that his private space was breached.”

According to the agreement, Rozen will pay the settlement within 21 days.

(L-R) Avner, Sara, Benjamin and Yair Netanyahu tour the Golan Heights on April 23, 2019. (PMO)

Netanyahu had originally filed a NIS 1 million ($272,000) suit against Rozen for defamation, infringement of privacy and breach of statutory duty, claiming that the tape was made illegally by the driver for financial gain. The security firm Modiin Ezrachi also filed a lawsuit against Rozen for NIS 250,000 ($73,000) over its former employee’s alleged secret recording of Yair and his friends.

The recording, apparently made over four years ago, captured conversations between the then-25-year-old Yair; Nir Maimon, the son of gas magnate Koby Maimon; and Roman Abramov, a friend of the younger Netanyahu.

In the recordings, published by Hadashot TV news, Yair and his friends can be heard discussing the thousands of shekels they had paid for private dances that evening. In comments made while he was likely inebriated, the younger Netanyahu also appeared to offer his friends sexual favors from a woman he was in an intimate relationship with in exchange for money.

Finally, waiting outside of a strip club, he asked Maimon to “spot him” money for strippers in return for a controversial gas deal worth billions that was pushed for by the prime minister and benefited his friend’s tycoon father.

Apparently recognizing the explosive nature of their comments, even if made jokingly, at one point the group could be heard telling the state-funded security guard escorting them that he could be “murdered” if he told anyone.

In other sections of the recording, Yair Netanyahu, Maimon and Abramov can repeatedly be heard discussing women they have met throughout the evening, including strippers and prostitutes. “I’ll text her and she will come as takeout,” Yair Netanyahu jokes to Maimon about one waitress.

“You know how many strippers’ numbers I have in my phone?” Abramov adds. “Half my phone is strippers.”

At one point, Abramov tells Netanyahu and Maimon that they are “acting like idiots,” standing outside a strip club. “If you were photographed, do you know how that would look?” he says, naming the well-known Pussycat strip club as one of the haunts they had visited.

Later, Maimon says that he “blew” NIS 3,000 ($870) on strippers that night. Abramov says he spent around NIS 2,000 ($580) on “two or three” private dances.

Yair Netanyahu also discusses a woman that Hadashot news reported he had been in a relationship with. “If you want, I can set you up with some ****,” he says of her, in comments that the channel said it censored due to their offensive nature. He adds that he could charge money for pimping her out.

Illustrative: The Pussycat Dolls strip club in Tel Aviv, October 3, 2017. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

Hadashot news said that the conversations took place in an armored car provided by the Prime Minister’s Office and driven by a similarly state-funded driver. A Shin Bet security guard was also with the group throughout the night.

Netanyahu and Ambramov can be heard joking that there would be “serious ramifications” if the guard were ever to lose his job.

“If he got fired,” Abramov says, “we would have to murder him.”

“Be careful when you resign,” they tell him. “You could die.”

At the end of the evening, Yair Netanyahu and Abramov were dropped off at billionaire James Packer’s house, the report said.

The recordings were released by Hadashot despite pressure from the Prime Minsiter’s Office to block their broadcast, saying the recordings were meant to undermine the prime minister.

In a rare move at the time, Yair Netanyahu also released his own statement responding to the report, calling it “biased and shameful,” and claiming the recordings were illegally obtained.

“In that late-night conversation, under the influence of alcohol, I said foolish things about women and other foolish things that would have been better left unsaid,” he said. “These words do not represent who I am, the values I was raised on, or the principles I believe in. I regret saying them and apologize if anyone was offended by them.”

Yair Netanyahu has been at the center of a number of scandals over the years, including for his social media activity. He’s been in hot water for contentious social media posts often attacking his and his family’s detractors.

Yair and his mother, Sara, were also initially seen as suspects in the criminal cases against the prime minister and were questioned under caution, though prosecutors ultimately decided to close their case files. In transcripts of police interrogations released last week, Yair angrily accuses politicians, officials, and others of rape and murder and compares the police to Nazis, while denying any wrongdoing.

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